Artist: Infant Annihilator
Album: The Elysian Grandeval Galèriarch
Let’s take a trip back in time: the year is 2012—and much of heavy music’s focus is dichotomously split. On one hand, there is an increasing focus on polished, melodic and catchy infusions within metalcore and deathcore alike—several bands begin including smooth, serene harmonies into their dynamics, with many metalcore acts beginning to add (even more) electronic and programmed aspects to their musicianship. On the other hand, bands like like Immoralist emerge, combining gritty deathcore with downtempo elements and beatdown elements a like—focusing on aggression as opposed to uplifting melody.
Then, there was the birth of Infant Annihilator.
Neither absurdly slow nor melodic by any stretch of the imagination, this trio burst onto the scene with “Decapitation Fornication” from their debut album The Palpable Leprosy of Pollution (TPLOP)—both of which every bit as grotesque and gruesome as they sound. Combining the best parts of slamming death metal in a head-on collision with technical deathcore, Infant Annihilator redefined how much of the heavy music community actually viewed and heard heavy music—some would go so far as to say they redefined heavy. But if you’re reading this article, I’d guess you don’t need or want a history lesson about this hyper technical, horrendously heavy trio. You’re here to hear about The Elysian Grandeval Galèriarch (The EGG), the group’s sophomore full-length release. Following the putrid footsteps of TPLOP, the group are back at it with an effort that simply outperforms their already-immense debut. The EGG is fast, furious, violent, visceral and—above all—eviscerating in every way imaginable. The culmination of careful writing and raw, natural talent, Infant Annihilator have, once more, reinvented heavy music’s figurative “wheel,” combining groove, gore, heaviness and tedious technicality in a way I, personally, could have never imagined.
Imagine putting Cattle Decapitation, Ingested, Black Tongue, Acrania and Archspire in a blender, adding some early-era Annotations of an Autopsy for good measure, and setting it to blend on hyperspeed. Maybe then—and even so, just maybe—one might have a simple way of defining the absurdly complex dynamic Infant Annihilator establish within the first five minutes of The EGG. Built on a foundation of simply insane percussion, immense grooves and lightning-like riffs take turns lacerating the listener, carving deep gashes into their skin—slicing as if they were made of little more than paper and prayers. From the first ear-catching groove of “Unholy Gravebirth,” percussionist Aaron Kitcher is the very definition of unstoppable. Whether it’s his tonally perfect kick drum and snare (much of which is thanks to production mastermind Jesse Kirkbride) or his immaculate writing and playing, The EGG’s drumming is such that fans of the band’s debut effort will not be disappointed. Where songs like “Unholy Gravebirth” and “Soil the Stillborn” are tame by Kitcher’s standards, “Motherless Miscarriage” and “Blasphemian” are both bold assertions of his awe-inspiring speed and intensity, where “Paedophilic Ultimatum” is an instrumental expose on his more jazzy writing and playing ability. Where Kitcher’s crushing percussion is brilliant in its own right, it is really only the beginning of Infant Annihilator’s instrumental tour-de-force. Guitarist and general string-slinging master of riffery and chaos Eddie Pickard has no issue keeping up with even Kitcher’s fastest and most absurd patterns. Where “Blasphemian” starts subtly, it ends in what is the single heaviest moment of any deathcore song ever written (you can hold me to that)—and the epic “Behold the Kingdom of the Wretched Undying,” spanning four chapters and over seventeen minutes, sees Pickard simply annihilating the listener with a sprawling arsenal of solos, grooves, slams, breakdowns and razor-sharp riffs. While it would be convenient to say there is one moment or song where Kitcher and Pickard are both at the top of their game (like “Cuntcrusher” was on TPLOP), the truth isn’t so easy—as they are both consistently amazing throughout the albums almost-an-hour-long runtime, making The EGG a constantly oppressive and awesome experience for fans of any sort of extreme music.
Where much of the instrumentation and songwriting throughout The EGG can be likened to a maturation and more focused, careful continuation of the direction established by TPLOP, much of the band’s debut was an instant success because of the—in laymen’s terms—insane vocals. Infant Annihilator’s vocal approach on The EGG manages to take the otherwise immense performance present on TPLOP and obliterate it—much to the amalgam of natural talent and incessant hard work from the band’s new frontman Dickie Allen. Allen’s approach to The EGG is unparalleled by any band in the technical deathcore spectrum. Capturing everything from primal, heated, bestial rage on “Unholy Gravebirth” to epic, entrancing storytelling on “Behold the Kingdom of the Wretched Undying” to his bone-chilling gutturals and tortured, perverse shrieks on “Blasphemian,” Allen’s work on Infant Annihilator’s sophomore album is his best yet—which is saying something, considering his lengthy laundry list of achievements. Allen’s diversity and stamina are boundless—and where it seems he never uses the same style of screech, shout or growl more than once, he doesn’t seem overbearing or as if he’s “doing too much.” Rather, his vocal intensity channels the incredible instrumental variety to be found throughout the album and uses it to tell a well written—if not gruesome, grotesque and not for the faint of heart–story. The EGG is, in many ways a lyrical continuation of TPLOP, with a greater display of poetic prowess and pure filth both. “Soil the Stillborn,” the album’s lead single, is evidence enough of that—but if you needed more convincing, tracks like “Neutered in Utero” or “Pelt of Innocent Flesh” both serve as stellar examples of the band’s penchant for putrid (but still eloquently written), conceptually-driven lyrical mayhem. Allen’s visceral, unwavering vocals are the perfect complement to the band’s collaborative lyrical efforts—his unstoppable array of pitches and styles ideal vectors for the vicious lyrical content.
With riffs, solos and grooves that serpentine hither and to without warning—trapping the listener in a lacerating, razor-sharp labyrinth—and breakdowns, slams and chugs that flatten the listener’s soul with seemingly little-to-no effort, Infant Annihilator are, simply put, back—but better than ever. Everything the heavy music community fell in love with about The Palpable Leprosy of Pollution is amplified and intensified (as well as matured and masterfully produced) on The Elysian Grandeval Galèriarch. The album’s brutality knows no bounds (which the listener would expect), but it also takes turns for the epic and progressive both. “Behold the Kingdom of the Wretched Undying” sees the band embark on a lengthy voyage for the first time—and absolutely nail it—while “Blasphemian” and “Paedophilic Ultimatum” both embrace jazzier and ever so slightly more subtle touches of songwriting; unheard of as far as young Infant Annihilator is concerned. The EGG is bold and innovative, the very picture of an unstoppable band reaching their truest potential and earning every cent of hype they’ve rightfully accumulated since their inception. With Allen at the helm and some of the genre’s most talented instrumentalists and producer(s) at his back, it would seem as if there’s nothing this deviant trio cannot annihilate.
For Fans Of: Ingested, Acrania, Abiotic, Slaughter to Prevail, Oceano, Cattle Decapitation
By: Connor Welsh